A harsh homecoming

As glorious as it was to escape Atlanta for a nice warm vacation, it was definitely jolting to come back to the cold and/or nasty of this week. If you want to relax, turn your brain off, read a bunch of books, and be warm, I can highly recommend a caribbean cruise. I was in the sun with a book whenever possible. What I don’t like is that if you do an excursion, you really don’t get to experience the port. 

Okay, what you really want to know is what did I eat, right? Even though Royal Caribbean says on their website that they don’t cater to vegans, they really do. You will be able to fill yourself up just fine from the buffets. My typical breakfast was a big pile of fresh fruit, steamed rice and stir fried veggies, bagel with peanut butter, potatoes in various forms, some other whole grain bread with margarine (they had a brand, Bibo, that’s vegan), sometimes cereal, soy milk (just ask for it) and coffee. Lunch, I’d have a big ol’ salad along with whatever cooked vegetables were on the buffet. Sometimes Indian food. We at dinner in the dining room. Every night they had a pasta dish as a choice, so that was always an option. Also, on our cruise, they had an Indian dish every night that was usually vegan if you had them keep the raita. The first night was the hardest, but after that they started preparing special dishes for us. Every night we’d get a platter of roasted or grilled veggies along with the other dishes. Desserts were various fruit bowls. No, you won’t get any vegan cake. But while the omnis were gorging themselves every day on the extensive dessert bar and gaining an average of 8 pounds, I actually ate healthier than I do at home, ate tons of food, and lost weight.

Sadly they did attempt two things for us that were not good. In the past, apparently the pastry chef had whipped up some fruit wrapped in phyllo dough that was a nice dessert. We tried to explain that to them, but what they brought out was fruit wrapped in plain phyllo. Yep, no canola spray, no margarine, just plain. Er, no. 

The other thing they tried to do was make cornbread. Vegan cornbread is pretty easy to make, but apparently they had no idea how to approach it. So we got this little loaf that seemed to be made of corn flour, not corn meal. And I don’t know what they used for the fat and binder. It pretty much tasted like nothing and had an odd texture. But, they did try. And honestly, we didn’t need these extra items. There was plenty of food for us.

So what about eating in port? In San Juan, Puerto Rico, we met up with friends of Danielle that took us to Cafe El Punto. Their specialty is a half an avocado filled with beans with rice and fried plantains on the side. Yum! Please excuse the blurry pic.

In St. Thomas, we were diving so we didn’t get to eat lunch there. (We saw a sea turtle, a moray eel and an octopus! No sharks this time though.) But there’s a place you have to hit called Rootsie’s Ital. Matt and Danielle got to go and loved it. Rootsie apparently cooks everything in a clay pot and then brings it to the shop. I’m so jealous I didn’t get to eat his food. Check out a pic of him here. You’ll find his place on the main road behind the big shopping area just past the catholic church. 

We did an excursion in St. Maarten, so we didn’t eat there. Although they did serve sandwiches on the sailboat on our way back from snorkeling and enjoying the beach. Matt talked them into making us sandwiches with just lettuce and tomato. The bread was nice, so it actually wasn’t bad.

At Labadee, the ship caters the food so it was similar to what we have available on board, just much more limited. Oh yeah, there’s also a Johnny Rockets on board. But after eating all the lovely fruit and vegetables, the Streamliner was rather meh. I want someone to chop up fruit and veggies for me every day. I could totally live like that.

I almost forgot…we got to tour the ship’s galley! It is unbelievably huge. And, you’ll be happy to know, everything is separated. Meats and veggies and dairy are all kept in separate refrigerators. There are also separate cooking areas.

Anyway, it was really hard coming back. I never used to take tropical vacations, but they are starting to grow on me. 😉 A bunch more pics are in my flickr account. I’ll leave you with this sunset.

San Francisco Re-cap

Good grief am I behind! I think I’d better just quickly recap the San Francisco trip and move on.

So, I left you all at Cha-Ya and promised Maggie Mudd porn. For the porn, you’ll just have to head over to my flickr account. I had a cup with lychee coconut and tarmack (peanut butter chocolate goodness). Yeah, that’s a strange combination, but I wanted them both and didn’t want a huge amount. That didn’t stop me from digging into Kevin’s waffle cone banana split. But he needed the help. It was HUGE.

Saturday morning, we went to Alcatraz. It’s about the only touristy thing I really enjoy doing in San Francisco. I mean, you get a boat ride, 2 even, views of the city, views of the bridges, views of Alcatraz. Stomping around Alcatraz with your little headset you get all edumacated. Plus there are some amazing photo opportunities.

While we were down that way, we had to check out the sea lions. They’re stinky but really cute! On several of the docks, the males were having wrestling matches. One would stake claim to his dock and challengers would fling themselves up on it and wrestle with him until one of them was pushed off. On other docks, sea lions were just sleeping away ignoring all the barking going on.

Next, lunch at Herbivore, Divisadero where we had a shwarma war. Kevin got the “chicken” shwarma and I got the regular one. I think it was kind of a draw. But I will say that the seitan they used in mine wasn’t very shwarma like. It was cut in strips instead of slices. And it wasn’t seasoned like I would season shwarma. Oh, and of course, there was dessert, chocolate cake.

After that, we went to Zeitgeist to meet my friend Lisa. I hadn’t seen her since ’98. So we had fun catching up and I got a little loopy on 2 margaritas. Oh, and while we were there, someone I used to work with at Kinko’s said “hey.” Wow. So he gave me the rundown on a few people we used to work with. Small world and all that.

Saturday night we went to see Goldfrapp at the Warfield. The sound guy needed to be fired, but even so, it was a good show. And Alison said she was sick but she still managed to belt out a pretty full show. Unlike Elizabeth Fraser back when I saw the Cocteau Twins a million years ago. But I’m not still bitter…

Sunday, we managed to sneak in a breakfast at Herbivore, Valencia, before we had to go to the airport. I had the tofu rancheros and Kevin got the french toast. And we shared it up like we do. Both were great, but I really liked the batter on the french toast. It was a lot thicker than I’ve had it come out for me. I need to play with that because it made it that much better. We got blueberry cornbread for the plane and Kevin also got a doughnut. But since one of the kitchen guys splattered me with ketchup, I got a doughnut too! The cornbread was sweet and almost more like cake. The doughnut was also cake-like rather than, whatever the other kind is called. Good though and a really unhealthy way to end the short vacation.